“I am not joking” : a reconsideration on Frederic Henry and the lovely critics who laugh at him.
Date of Issue2010
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Almost no other American author is critically revered and equally dismissed as Ernest Hemingway. This essay surveys the prevailing critical views of the protagonists in A Farewell to Arms and investigates how these views have inhibited our understanding of the individual characters. By exploring the similarities in the male and female protagonists' scholarships, this essay takes up the question of critical determinism in Frederic Henry’s scholarship. I analyze Hemingway’s construction of his male protagonist’s sense of humour and show how it reveals a contrasting portrait of Frederic Henry compared to the portrait we derive of him from his critical scholarship. This essay addresses on the prevailing biases against Frederic Henry in current scholarship. I suggest that present critics fail to appreciate Frederic Henry’s positive attributes because they view Catherine Barkley as an opposition to Frederic Henry. I will also briefly study Frederic Henry’s use of black humour during the couple’s escape to Switzerland because compared to Catherine Barkley his humour is not critically acknowledged as one of the strengths of his character. Instead of laughing at Frederic Henry, present Hemingway scholars should bequeath irony and pity on Frederic Henry and reassess his critical identity in Hemingway scholarship.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University